Lessons from the Classroom

Lessons come in all forms. I’m a big believer in lifelong learning and occasional breaks, so we can recharge. I  believe we should pursue “continuing education” no matter what type of work we do. Here’s a repost from a time I spent at an art retreat – when I learned so much more than art. Since it’s “back to school” season, I figure this is worth a revisit. 

art retreatsLife can get going pretty fast. It’s easy to fall into a pattern, partake in the same old activities, see the same people each day and do the same old thing. Some people call it the “Grind.” Well, you may be stuck in the grind, or you may be enjoying the way things are…no matter, you could probably use a break.

Retreats are a nice way of taking a break. I recently took one and found it was not only good for my head, but my soul benefited as well. Here’s what I took away from a break in routine:

S-t-r-e-t-c-h – I learned some new stuff. I didn’t enjoy every, single minute because I was seriously pushed out of my comfort zone, but I did learn a lot of useful, innovative information, gained mastery of some new techniques and had a chance to adjust my line of thinking about this “stretch,” so it was well worth a couple awkward moments.

Pull back the curtain – I had some time to be introspective. In those “awkward moments” I quickly realized the only one paying attention to me was, well, ME. Hmmmm…. Why was it a big deal to me, and no one else seemed to care? Something to learn there…code phrase…”room to grow”. So, I learned some new behaviours and had an opportunity to choose a positive attitude.

Find kindred spirits – I made new friends. I met nice, accomplished, curious souls. Because it was a topic I was interested in, I met people with like interests, similar stories and several who were quite inspirational. I’ll keep in touch with some of these folks, so I’m building relationships with some really awesome people…my tribe!

art retreats
Photo – Clay Aiken News Network

Bounce with the big yellow ball – I woke up more easily. For the time I was attending the retreat I sprung out of bed with more gusto than usual. Let’s face it, I’m not a morning person. It practically takes defibrillators to get me out of bed. (Click to Tweet). When I woke up at 5:30 am and didn’t want to crawl back under the blankets I knew some serious voodoo was up. I was crazy, super excited about what the day would bring,

Beef up your bag of tricks – I now have a few more tools for my bag of tricks. Whether I use them directly, or indirectly, it doesn’t really matter, I have them and will make use of them somehow. My head is bursting with new ideas. I tested my boundaries and survived. Not only that…I thrived!

Cultivate confidence – with new experiences and new skills, I got out of my comfort zone and now it IS my comfort zone (Click to Tweet). One of my original goals going into my workshop was to build confidence in the topic – yay – done! I AM INSPIRED!!!

Restore, rejuvenate and rest. Comparing notes, it’s safe to say every night the 20 of us fell into bed exhausted. Yep, we “left it all on the field” every, single day AND IT WAS EXHILARATING! The learning, working, laughing and fun curve was astronomic…so we all went home exhausted with smiles on our faces. Not many things will offer you that result! (Well, there are a few, but this is a PG rated blog).

Given the benefits above, I think it’s safe to say we could all use the occasional break. Vacations are great, but something that really challenges our comfort levels, inspires new behaviours and provides a safe environment to explore is beneficial to our well being. It’s part of our lifelong learning. It makes us EXCITED about moving forward. Do yourself a favour, and give yourself a break!

Cheers to a Well Lived Life!

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Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, helping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in Writer, Artist, Coachtheir lives.

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